This unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational from any of the several places named with the Olde English pre 7th Century elements "caers(e)" meaning cress, plus "wella", a spring or stream; hence, "stream where watercress grew". These places include Caswell in Northampton, Dorset and Somerset; Carswell in Berkshire; Crasswall (Herefordshire); Cresswell (Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Northumberland), and Kerswell (Devonshire). Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The surname was first recorded in the mid 12th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: Thomas de Cressewella, who appears in the 1190 Pipe Rolls of Staffordshire; Reginald de Kersewell, recorded in the Curia Regis Rolls of Oxfordshire, dated 1212; and Richard de Carswall, who was recorded in the 1273 Hundred Rolls of Devonshire. In the "modern" idiom the name has at least fifteen spelling variations including Cas(s)well, Cris(s)well, Kerswill and Caswall. Recordings from London Church Registers include the christening of Richard, son of John Casswell, on July 27th 1597, at St. Dunstan's, Stepney. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Basilia de Caswella, which was dated 1165, in the "Pipe Rolls of Devonshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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